Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Playlist: September 2015

I've had a few playlist ideas floating around in my head recently, so it was hard to choose which one I wanted to go with this month. After some thought, I decided to go with the one that would be the easiest to throw together. (Yes, I know ... I'm such an awesome blogger.)

I usually don't mind putting a little extra effort into most of my posts, but, as you may have noticed, I've been kind of "meh" about blogging lately. I've been trying to post at least a couple of times each week, but I've either been too busy or too distracted with other things (like tearing through the huge stack of library books I have at home) to give my blog the attention I think it deserves. October should be a slightly less chaotic month for me, though, so hopefully I can work on getting back into a nice blogging groove.

But anyway ... Back to the music.

When I talk about music with other people, one of the most common questions I get is "How did you get into them?" ("Them" being the band or artist we're talking about.) 

I always respond with the song that made me fall in love with that band/artist. Sometimes it's the first song I heard. Sometimes it's a song I heard much later that made me rethink my original opinion. 

For example, Regina Spektor was one of those artists I didn't immediately fall in love with. A friend of mine made me listen to "Samson" years ago and I didn't really like it. Several years after that, "Eet" started playing on one of my Pandora stations and I realized I may have been a little too quick to judge. (And, oddly enough, "Samson" is now one of my favorites.) I guess this is proof that my tastes can change.

So today I'm going to share the songs that made me fall in love with some of my favorite bands/artists. (And trust me, this playlist doesn't cover all of my favorites. I had to use some restraint since I didn't want to make a 50+ song playlist!) 

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And, since there aren't any Tool songs on Spotify, I'll share this YouTube video. I mean, I couldn't just leave them off the list completely ... They've been one of my favorite bands since I was 13! (Also, their music videos are fucking amazing, so it's not the worst thing in the world to have to post one here.) 

I just rewatched the video while I was working on this post, and I'm still amazed by it. I'm not sure exactly when this video was made, but Undertow (the album the song is from) came out in 1993 ... So it's a safe bet this was made sometime in the early 90s. Now I feel like I need to dig out my Salival DVD and rewatch all of their videos on a bigger screen! (Wow, I'm a such a nerd.)

Okay, moving on to the playlist:

I know that several of these songs were really popular and were probably what drew most people to check out more of that band's/artist's music, but that doesn't make them seem any less special to me.

P.S. If you're reading this post on Bloglovin' and want to actually listen to the music, please click on through to the original post. Apparently the embedded Spotify playlists don't show up properly on Bloglovin', but you should be able to listen to the playlist if you're on my actual blog (assuming you have a Spotify account, of course). And if you don't have a Spotify account, you should get one. It's quick and easy to sign up (and free!), and you can make your own playlists and share music (and listen to all of my playlists, of course). And no, this isn't sponsored ... I just really love Spotify!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Red Curry Lentils with Coconut Jasmine Rice

I feel like I've been sharing a lot of really meaty meals lately, so I decided to switch things up a bit this week and post a vegetarian meal.

I was a little nervous about making this because I'd never made lentils at home before. Well, okay ... I'd made prepackaged lentils with sauce, but that doesn't count. I mean, you literally pop those in the microwave for a couple of minutes and they're ready.

This dish required a little more effort than that, but it was still remarkably easy. As we were eating, I kept saying, "I wish I'd realized before how easy it is to make something like this myself!" It tasted much better than the prepackaged stuff, and it was probably a little healthier since it wasn't packed with preservatives.

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If you're intimidated by the thought of making your own curry, don't be. This is ridiculously simple to throw together. You're also using a jarred curry paste for this dish, so it's not as though you'll need to purchase 500 different spices. I honestly felt like I used fewer spices in this curry than I have in some of the other meals I've posted!

I followed the original recipes pretty closely, but made a few adjustments to some of the measurements. This makes quite a bit of curry and rice, but the leftovers taste just as good (if not better!).

Red Curry Lentils with Coconut Jasmine Rice

Adapted ever so slightly from recipes on Pinch of Yum and Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Ingredient List (Red Curry Lentils):
  • 1 2/3 cups lentils, rinsed and picked over (If you've never cooked with lentils before, this just means that you'll want to sort through them and pick out anything that looks "weird." Apparently little rocks can find their way into packages of lentils, so if something is discolored or just looks a little "off," toss it.)
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (I like to use the Thai Kitchen brand. This can be found in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores, including Super Target.)
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 clove garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup lite coconut milk (I used lite to make it healthier, but you could also use regular coconut milk.)
  • 1 14 oz. can tomato puree
  • Fresh cilantro for serving

Instructions (Red Curry Lentils):

1.  Cook the lentils according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

2.  Melt the butter in a large, deep saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until slightly soft and golden.

3.  Add the curry paste, Garam Masala, curry powder, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper to the onion and butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

4.  Stir in the tomato puree, and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.

5.  Add the cooked lentils and coconut milk. Stir several times to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. (It's best to let the curry simmer as long as possible!)

6.  Serve over coconut jasmine rice (recipe below) and garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Ingredient List (Coconut Jasmine Rice):
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 1/3 cups lite coconut milk (This should use up the rest of a 14 oz. can of coconut milk.)
  • 1 2/3 cup water

Instructions (Coconut Jasmine Rice):

1.  Bring the rice, coconut milk, and water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.

2.  Cover and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly evaporated.

3.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork.

This was seriously delicious. Eric even loved it, and he doesn't always love vegetarian meals. (To be fair, he did say "Maybe you could add chicken to this when you make it again," but then he admitted that it was really filling and tasty just as it was ... He just prefers meat with his meals.)

And, as you can see, it's a really easy meal to throw together. It's also pretty healthy, which is really important to me right now. September was kind of a "Fuck it, I'll eat and drink what I want!" month for me, so I really need to start focusing on eating a little better, cutting back on the alcohol, and getting back into an exercise routine. (But that's another post entirely.)

All rambling aside, you should definitely give this a try. If nothing else, it will prove just how easy it can be to make a (mostly) homemade curry!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall Film Challenge Update: What I've Watched So Far - Volume 1

About a month ago I decided to participate in a fall film challenge. I'll honestly be really surprised if I can manage to watch 25 movies in 3 months, but at least I'm having fun with it.

One of the reasons I was so excited about this challenge was the fact that it was something Eric and I could do together. Since he's been watching the movies with me, I told him he should get even more involved and help me with my reviews.

I'll tell you right now that these aren't thorough, IMDB worthy reviews. Maybe we'll get better at this after we write a few more of these posts ... Maybe we won't.

Either way, it was fun to get my husband a little more involved with my blog.

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1.  Paranoia - Watched 09/07/2015

My Thoughts: It's not really my type of movie, but it was pretty entertaining. It held my interest, and it wasn't a bad way to pass the time.

Eric's Thoughts: It was exciting and suspenseful. I really liked the technology, especially the "phone wallet thingy." I liked the ending even though I saw it coming.

Kristen's Rating: 3/5 stars - Liked it.

Eric's Rating: 3/5 stars - Liked it.

2.  Side Effects - Watched 09/12/2015

My Thoughts: This is a great example of the kind of movie I love. It was a little dark, and it had a really interesting twist. Rooney Mara was so good that it almost made me want to watch the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Almost. (But, let's be honest, I will never willingly watch the American version of a foreign movie.)

Eric's Thoughts: It was good and I liked the unusual story. I think the title was really fitting without being really obvious. I usually don't seek out this type of movie, but I really liked this one.

Kristen's Rating: 4/5 stars - Really liked it.

Eric's Rating: 4/5 stars - Really liked it.

3.  Zodiac - Watched 09/18/2015

My Thoughts: It's amazing that I hadn't seen this movie before, and thankfully it didn't disappoint. I've read a lot about serial killers over the years, but I really didn't know much about the Zodiac Killer. This movie made me want to learn more.

Eric's Thoughts: I like movies that are based on historical events, so this was right up my alley. I always wonder how much of it is factual, though. This was probably the third time I've seen this movie, and each time the investigators and reporters became more obsessed!

Kristen's Rating: 4/5 stars - Really liked it.

Eric's Rating: 4/5 stars - Really liked it.

Things I learned while writing this post:

1.  I'm much better at writing book reviews. I would be a terrible movie critic.

2.  We probably shouldn't wait so long to write these reviews. We wrote all of this in one night.

3.  Eric apparently thinks the Netflix rating system is really difficult to use. He says he won't finish a movie if he thinks it sucks (so basically nothing will get less than 3 stars), and it would have to be "really special" to get 5 stars from him.

4.  Eric doesn't mind spoilers in his reviews. I refused to write some of the things he said because it would completely ruin the ending for anyone who hasn't seen the movie.

5.  It's really hard to try to type someone else's stream of consciousness.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Steak Penne with Caramelized Onions

I'm really proud of the recipe I'm sharing today. While I can't take credit for coming up with the idea, I made some changes that really took it to the next level. It was one of the few times I've made a meal that I'd consider "restaurant quality."

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I'll admit that I was a little skeptical of this dish at first. I typically like really saucy pastas, and this is definitely not coated in sauce. Despite the lack of sauce, this meal was packed with flavor. It made me realize that the sauce doesn't always have to make the dish.

That's not to say the sauce isn't good, though. It is. It's actually really good. It's just not a standard type of pasta sauce. There are no tomatoes, no cream, no wine, etc. It's really just a very simple dressing made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard. I know it probably sounds a little weird, but trust me ... It's delicious!

If you feel like branching out from the "usual" pasta dishes, please give this a try. It takes some time and effort, but it's completely worth it!

Steak Penne with Caramelized Onions

Adapted from a recipe on Girl Gone Gourmet.

Ingredient List:
  • 1-1 1/2 lb steak (I used 2 large ribeye steaks.)
  • 1 box penne or other short pasta
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
  • 2 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Crumbled feta cheese for serving


1.  Melt the unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. 

2.  Once the butter has melted, add the sliced onion and garlic. Cover and cook over medium low for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions should be soft and caramel in color when they're done.

3.  While the onions are cooking, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.

4.  In a small bowl, mix the garlic salt, black pepper, and Mrs. Dash Italian Medley. Rub the spice mixture on one side of the steak (or steaks, depending on how many you use).

5.  Cook the steak in the large skillet for approximately 5-10 minutes on each side, depending on how pink you like it. You will also need to consider the thickness of the steak when determining how long to cook it. Eric and I both like our steak medium rare, but I still had to cook these steaks for about 9 minutes on each side because they were so large and thick. (And they were still very pink.)

6.  While the steak is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne to the boiling water, cook according to package directions until al dente, and drain.

7.  Once the steak has been cooked, remove it to a plate and allow it to rest before slicing. (I sliced the meat into thin strips for this dish, but you can obviously cut it however you like.)

8.  Wipe out the large skillet that was used to cook the steak, and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Heat the olive oil over medium heat.

9.  Add the sliced red bell pepper to the large skillet, and cook over medium heat until slightly tender.

10.  In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

11.  When the red bell pepper has finished cooking, add the caramelized onions, sliced steak, and drained pasta to the skillet. Toss in the spinach, and mix until it begins to wilt. Pour the olive oil/balsamic vinegar/Dijon mustard dressing into the skillet and toss with the pasta, meat, and vegetables until evenly coated. Top each serving with feta cheese.

This wasn't the quickest meal to make, and there are a lot of things going on at once. It's not overly difficult, though, and it's so good. I love when I can actually put something together in the kitchen that tastes just as good as something I would get in a restaurant, and this is definitely one of those dishes!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge Results

With the end of summer comes the end of the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge, and I'm happy to say that I finished it (with a few days to spare!).

I'm kind of weirdly anal, so I stuck with my original book list. I figured that since I took the time to search Goodreads for the "perfect" book for each category, I should probably read them. (And, hey, I wanted to cross several of these off my "To Read" list anyway.)

I'm not going to share detailed reviews in this post (if you want to read more of my thoughts on these novels, I'll be linking to the reviews I've already shared), but I'll at least let you know if these are worth picking up.

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1. A YA Book: Identical by Ellen Hopkins (565 pages)
Date Completed: 07/16/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars
My Quick Review: I liked this book, but it's definitely not for everyone. If you're not the kind of person who enjoys dark and disturbing stories, you should probably pass on this one. If, however, you're intrigued by books that deal with heavy subject matter, you might want to add this to your "To Read" list.
My Detailed Review: Identical is the first book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

2. A Book By A Non-U.S. Author: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (458 pages)
Date Completed: 07/07/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
My Quick Review: I absolutely loved this book! It's one of my favorites so far this year. I stayed up late to read "just one more chapter" several times because I just had to know what was going to happen next.
My Detailed Review: Big Little Lies is the fifth book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

3. A Book That Was Recommended By Another Blogger: Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam (335 pages)
Date Completed: 09/16/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars
My Quick Review: I really enjoyed this book, but I didn't fall in love with it the way I thought I would. Although it didn't fall under the "completely amazing" category for me, it made me remember the girl I was in my early 20s (and, as a result, stirred up a lot of intense emotions).
My Detailed Review: This hasn't actually posted yet. If you're interested in reading more of my thoughts on Last Train to Babylon, I'll be posting my review when the next Show Us Your Books! link-up rolls around.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

4. A Book That Has Been On My "To Read" List For A Year Or More: White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (227 pages)
Date Completed: 08/03/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
My Quick Review: This book had been on my "To Read" list for several years, and I'm so glad I finally took the time to read it. It was haunting, heartbreaking, and beautifully written ... It was everything I'd hoped it would be (and more).
My Detailed Review: White is for Witching is the fifth book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

5. A Book With A Kickass Female Character: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (403 pages)
Date Completed: 07/02/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars
My Quick Review: I wasn't sure if I'd like this book since it falls under the zombie genre (and I'm not a fan). And, while it had some of the usual shit you'd expect in a book about zombies, it also focused on things like ethics, scientific discovery, and themes of identity. It wasn't a perfect novel, but it was an enjoyable read.
My Detailed Review: The Girl With All the Gifts is the fourth book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

6. A Book That Is (Or Will Be) A Movie Or TV Show: Under the Skin by Michel Faber (311 pages)
Date Completed: 07/14/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars
My Quick Review: This was another book that had been on my "To Read" list for several years. It was a really unusual story, and the writing was spectacular ... But I did feel it was lacking in some way. If you decide to pick this one up, please avoid any spoilers. (Don't even read the extended summary on Goodreads!) This is one of those books that's best if you go in knowing as little as possible about the plot.
My Detailed Review: Under the Skin is the seventh (and final) book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

7. A Book Written By A Comedian Or Celebrity (Or A Memoir): Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (230 pages)
Date Completed: 08/18/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars
My Quick Review: I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but this memoir was interesting enough to hold my attention. Winterson's early life experiences were heartbreaking, but this memoir was also filled with hope.
My Detailed Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is the second book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

8. A Book With A One Word Title: You by Caroline Kepnes (422 pages)
Date Completed: 08/30/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars
My Quick Review: This book is dark and fucked up in the best way possible. (Though, to be fair, I tend to like my entertainment dark and fucked up.) It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but that wasn't a bad thing. I really enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series!
My Detailed Review: You is the fourth book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

9. A Suspenseful Book (Mystery, Thriller, Etc.): The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper (285 pages)
Date Completed: 06/25/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 2/5 stars
My Quick Review: I was really looking forward to reading this book, but it was fucking terrible. It read like a really bad action flick with cheesy dialogue. I definitely had an "I want to throw this fucking book out the window" moment with this one.
My Detailed Review: The Demonologist is the third book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

10. A Book About Summer, With Summer In The Title, Or In Any Way Related To Summer: Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch (387 pages)
Date Completed: 07/27/2015
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
My Quick Review: I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. It's even more surprising that I loved it when you consider that it centers around the lives of really repulsive characters. But it's well written, entertaining, and I had a hard time putting it down. It's probably not for everyone, but I thought it was wonderful!
My Detailed Review: Summer House with Swimming Pool is the third book reviewed in this post.
For More Information: Check it out on Goodreads.

I had so much fun with this challenge! I read a couple of things I probably would never have chosen for myself, and realized I actually might kind of like YA. (Well, some of it anyway.) And I'm really glad that of the 10 books I chose, only one of them was a dud.

I'd never participated in something like this before, and I'm sure there will be more book challenges in my future!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: One Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice

I can't say enough great things about this recipe. It was amazing!

I love dinners that are simple enough to make during a busy weeknight, especially if they can be made in one pot. Based on that alone, I knew this meal would be a winner.

I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, though. It was flavorful and delicious, and tasted like something that took considerable time and effort to make. 

And the rice was perfect. Sometimes the rice in one pot meals isn't as fluffy as I would like, but somehow the rice in this dish turned out exactly the way I'd hoped it would.

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I made a few changes to the original recipe, but it really didn't need much tweaking. This is definitely one of those cases when keeping things simple is best!

One Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Creme de la Crumb.

Ingredient List:
  • 6 thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp low fat margarine or butter (I used low fat margarine.)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 12-15 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (plus additional for serving, if desired)
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1.   Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

2.  Once the butter has melted, add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds (or until fragrant).

3.  Season the chicken on both sides with the sea salt, black pepper, dried parsley, oregano, and Mrs. Dash Italian Medley, then add it to the skillet. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, then remove to a plate.

4.  Add the rice, chicken broth, and white wine to the skillet. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the ingredients in the skillet.

5.  Place the chicken on top of the rice and liquid, then cover and simmer over medium low heat for 20-25 minutes (or until no liquid remains).

6.  When about 3-5 minutes of cook time remain, add the sliced grape tomatoes and replace the lid.

7.  After it has finished cooking, sprinkle the top of the chicken and rice with the crumbled feta cheese.

As you can see from the second picture, I served this with a side of oven roasted asparagus. So delicious!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Labor Day Weekend 2015: A Trip to The Twin Cities

I planned to write about my Labor Day weekend trip to Minnesota last week, but I wasn't really in the mood to edit a bunch of pictures ... So I didn't.

So I'm a week late posting this, but it's okay. Better late than never!

My friend Danielle invited us to spend the weekend with her, so Eric and I both took some time off to extend our Labor Day weekend and drove the 6(ish) hours to St. Paul on Friday.

It was my first time in Minnesota (so I got to mark off my 27th state!), and I had an awesome time. We were pretty much on the go constantly, but I was glad we were able to do so much in such a short amount of time. Eric and I were both off on Tuesday as well, and I'm so glad we decided to take an extra day off to unwind!

On Saturday, we went to see the Cathedral of St. Paul. None of us are religious, but the church is absolutely beautiful and it was a nice quick stop on the way to a sports bar to watch the first Husker game of the season. (Obviously Eric couldn't miss that!)

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This picture is from the steps of the church:

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We then made our way to the sports bar, and took a few pictures of the downtown area as we walked.

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After the game was over, we headed to the Mall of America. I would have loved to spend an entire day there (okay, maybe two or three days!), but Eric hates shopping ... So a few hours at the mall after a few hours of football was a nice compromise. I actually didn't buy anything, but we did ride the Fairly Odd Coaster. I love roller coasters, so I knew I'd enjoy it, but it was actually a pretty thrilling ride. I was surprised ... I mean, it's inside a mall. I didn't expect it to be as awesome as it was!

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Sunday morning began with a trip to the Minnesota State Fair. Apparently the state fair is a huge deal, and it definitely didn't disappoint! We didn't try all of the amazing food (I wish!), but we did a beer tasting, ate a few things that were terrible for us (cheesy garlic breadsticks, frozen custard, and fried olives), and took a silly picture or two.

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Danielle and I also rode one of the rides. We considered riding more, but the lines were really long and, let's be honest, riding crazy rides after drinking a lot of beer isn't exactly the best idea. My stomach was pretty queasy after the ride, but thankfully I managed to get over it without getting sick!

Eric didn't want to ride the ride we picked out, so he took a few cool action shots of us on it. I loved the ride, but it was terrifying! My butt kept lifting out of the seat and I remember screaming, "Danielle, I think I'm going to fall out! I'm not even touching the seat!" I clearly get very dramatic when I'm riding scary rides.

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After we left the fair, we headed to a St. Paul Saints game. Danielle managed to snag some free tickets, and even though I'm not a fan of baseball (at all), it was a lot of fun.

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Eric was trying to be "saintly," but it kind of looks like he's praying to his beer on the ground.

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We obviously had to get a picture with the giant baseball!

After the game, they let everyone out onto the field, so we took a shit ton of ridiculous pictures.

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I think I was trying to dance ... Or something. If you've ever wondered how I act in real life (especially after I've been drinking quite a bit!), please refer to those pictures. I can be pretty silly!

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This one is a little more normal.

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And here are the three of us. Clearly I'm not the only one who can get a little ridiculous!

On Monday, we finally made it over to Minneapolis to do a couple of touristy things before we left. Danielle told us we had to at least see Minnehaha Falls, so we went to the park for a little while to take some pictures.

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We also drove over to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and got a silly picture in front of the famous spoon.

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And yes, I'm wearing yoga leggings in public. By the end of the trip, I was so bloated from all the alcohol and greasy food that I didn't feel like squeezing into my jeans for the long drive home. Sometimes you just stop caring.

And, speaking of food, no vacation recap would be complete without some food pictures. I actually didn't take pictures of every meal we had (shocking, I know!), but I took quite a few.

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These pictures are from our dinner at the Mall of America. We didn't know it at the time, but we actually sat on the bar side of this Mexican restaurant ... And it apparently turns into a dance club around 9:00 p.m. They served us food (obviously), but it was kind of hilarious. We were trying to eat and talk, and a DJ was in the corner playing loud music and using a fog machine to create a "club" atmosphere. It kind of made us feel old.

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These pictures are from various bars we went to. The pulled pork nachos and bacon jalapeño cheese curds were both from The Bulldog Lowertown (and both amazing!). The stout float from Great Waters Brewing Company was refreshing and delicious. And, finally, the chili cheese tots were ordered during the Husker game at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub.

They actually just had chili cheese fries on the menu, but since I saw that they also served tater tots, I asked our waitress if they would be willing to make chili cheese tots for our table. They were such a great idea ... The tater tots stayed perfectly crispy even under all the toppings, and I couldn't stop eating them! (Okay, so maybe that means they were a bad idea.)

I also took some pictures from our trip to a Thai restaurant in St. Paul, but I'll be sharing that in a separate post. This has gotten long enough!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

From the Bookshelf: Recently Read - September 2015 Edition

I've been feeling really lazy lately, and I think this has kind of spilled over into all areas of my life. I've been trying fewer new recipes, working out less frequently, and spending less time on my reading goals.

I still managed to get through 5 books since the last Show Us Your Books! link-up, and I'm still ahead of schedule with my 50 book goal for the year (I've completed 37 so far!) ... But, for whatever reason, I still feel like I'm not reading as much lately. Maybe things will pick back up once the weather begins to cool. Maybe.

As usual, I've written quite a bit about each book I read. If you don't have the time (or patience) to read my lengthy reviews, please feel free to skip to the end of the post for my "TL;DR" summary.

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The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - 426 pages

Completed on 08/15/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

I'd like to begin this review with a huge thank you to both Steph and Kristen: without your glowing reviews of this novel, I may never have discovered it. And while I didn't stay up all night reading it like they did (okay, I did stay up late once, but I didn't finish it that night), I loved it just as much.

 The Sea of Tranquility is the kind of book I'd want to write. Katja Millay created two very damaged characters and brought them together in a way that felt real. It's a story about first love, but it's about so much more than that. It's a story about hope and second chances and somehow, without veering into "overly cheesy" territory, she manages to deliver all of this (and more!) in a very emotional, very effective way.

And when I say very emotional, I mean very emotional. I'm an incredibly sensitive person and I cry a lot, but I wasn't prepared to cry as much as I did while I was reading this book. I don't think I've cried as much over a book since I read The Fault in Our Stars last year. (Though I expected a sobfest with that one. I mean, it's about teenagers with cancer ... How could it not break my heart?)

I will say that I already knew what Nastya's "last secret" was before I reached the end of the novel, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. The author gave at least a couple of clues throughout the book, so it wasn't too difficult to put the pieces together. And while this would annoy the shit out of me if it were a mystery/thriller, The Sea of Tranquility most definitely does not fall under that category ... So it really wasn't an issue.

As I said earlier, I loved this book. I gave it a solid 5 stars on Goodreads, and have already recommended it to several people. Katja Millay writes beautifully (I can't believe this is a debut novel!), and I can't wait to read more of her work.

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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson - 230 pages

Completed on 08/18/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

It's so difficult to rate and review a memoir because you're essentially rating and reviewing another person's life. Who am I to say whether someone's life is interesting? Every life has its interesting moments. 

I don't read a lot of nonfiction in general. At first, I got this from the library simply because I was looking for something different. It also made things a little easier when I decided to join the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge since one of the categories was "A Book Written By A Comedian Or Celebrity (Or A Memoir)." 

I was initially drawn to this memoir because the author is, in fact, an author ... So I imagined that, at the very least, it would be well written. More than that, though, the subject matter intrigued me. 

Jeanette Winterson was adopted at a very young age by a devoutly religious couple. Her adoptive mother was nearly impossible to please, and very emotionally and mentally abusive. Jeanette frequently found herself locked out of her own home all night as a young girl, and when her mother was angry with her, she'd say, "The Devil led us to the wrong crib."

Things only became worse for Jeanette as she got older and realized she was a lesbian. At just 16 years old, she was forced to leave her home after coming out to her mother. When she explained that she was in love with another woman and that she made her happy, her mother's response became the title of this memoir: "Why be happy when you could be normal?"

This memoir also chronicles Jeanette's search for her biological mother. I found these sections particularly interesting because she notes in the final chapter that she wrote much of this book in real time ... She had no idea how the search would turn out as she was writing out the frustrations associated with the experience.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this. It was heartbreaking at times, but also filled with hope. I loved that she was able to break away from those "not good enough" feelings to become a successful writer. I also loved that she wasn't afraid to admit to her shortcomings. She felt undeserving of love and ill prepared to give so much of herself to someone else, and she admits that it took her years to figure out how to be in a healthy romantic relationship. And, despite the fact that I don't typically go for memoirs, this wasn't a bad way to pass the time. 

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - 323 pages

Completed on 08/24/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

After several months of patiently waiting for this book to become available at the library, I was finally able to see for myself what all the hype was about. And, since I'm sure that by now most people have either read The Girl on the Train or heard a lot about it, I won't bore you with a summary of the plot ... I'll just share my thoughts.

Before I started this novel, I assumed I would probably love it. I'm a huge fan of thrillers, and this one consistently got (mostly) great reviews. And, despite only rating it 4 stars on Goodreads, I did really like it ... It just didn't blow me away the way I thought it would.

Overall, I thought Paula Hawkins did a great job creating a fast-paced thriller. I was hooked early on, and even though it took me several days to finish, it wasn't due to lack of interest. I stayed up late reading at least once, and actually cared about what happened to Rachel even though she wasn't the most likable character.

To be honest, I kind of felt bad only giving this book 4 stars. I know that's not a bad rating, but I've given several books 5 stars this year ... So I'm not overly stingy with my 5 star ratings. I really enjoyed it, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. I think the main issue was that I (unfairly) built it up so much in my mind that it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations.

As I said earlier, I'm a huge fan of thrillers ... So I obviously read a lot of them. The problem with reading a lot of thrillers, though, is that it becomes very difficult for authors to create a twist that I don't see coming. I'm not saying that I always know who did it or why, but I'm pretty good at picking up on the clues the author scatters throughout the book. 

I'll admit that I didn't immediately know who did it, but I knew at least a few chapters before it was revealed. There were a few things I didn't see coming, of course, but I really wanted to be completely shocked ... I mean, the cover even has a blurb stating that the book is "wildly unpredictable." I guess I was just expecting something a little different.

While The Girl on the Train didn't quite live up to my ridiculously high expectations, it was a solid thriller that held my interest throughout. I definitely think it's worth picking up if, like me, you're behind the times and haven't read it yet.

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You by Caroline Kepnes - 422 pages

Completed on 08/30/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

I'm not sure what this says about me (other than I clearly have a dark, fucked up sense of humor), but I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions while I was reading this novel. You has been categorized as a "mystery/thriller," but I don't think it really fits that category. 

It kind of reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho in some ways (which is actually one of the many pop culture references in this book). Like Ellis, Kepnes weaves obsession, violence, and sex with social commentary, pop culture, and very very dark humor. I found You to be much less graphic than American Psycho (I still think about that fucking rat, and I read that book almost 10 years ago ... Ugh), but if you're not a fan of explicit sexual content, this might not be the book for you.

That being said, I really enjoyed You. I gave it a 4 star rating on Goodreads, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys really dark literature. 

My only issue with this novel was the stream of consciousness writing. For the most part, I don't dislike this ... But sometimes it got to be a bit much. Joe just rattled on and on (sometimes about completely unrelated things), and I'd have to reread sections because I thought I missed something. But no ... He's just sharing every thought in his head.

For those who don't know anything about this book, the general premise is as follows: Joe Goldberg is the owner of a small bookstore in New York. Guinevere Beck (or Beck, as she prefers to be addressed) comes into the store one day and he's immediately smitten. However, in Joe's world "smitten" means learning every single thing about a woman and her life. 

He begins stalking her on various social media accounts, and, from these accounts, learns where she lives, where she goes to school, what bars she frequents, etc. Joe is a smart guy, though, and pretty soon he's not just on the outside looking in ... He's completely inserted himself into her life.

You was creepy in the best sort of way, and it was creepy because it was pretty believable. Many of us (bloggers, especially!) put a lot of our personal lives out there online for anyone to find. I try to keep some parts of my life more private (and I think I do a good job, for the most part), but it's not as though I don't use Instagram while I'm away from home or share some pretty personal stories on my blog. I don't think we'll all inspire stalkers to come knocking at our doors or anything, but it's definitely something I think about from time to time.

As I said, I really enjoyed this novel. I'll definitely be reading the next book in this series (and any others Caroline Kepnes may release in the future)!

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The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne - 306 pages

Completed on 09/02/2015 - Read more reviews on Goodreads

I was on the waiting list at the library for at least a couple of months for this book, and I was so excited when it finally showed up on my hold shelf. There were so many 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads claiming The Ice Twins was an amazing, suspenseful novel, and I couldn't wait to see what all the hype was about.

Well, I'm still wondering. 

I knew I'd probably have to suspend my disbelief quite a bit based on some of the reviews I read, but I still thought the story sounded interesting. A grieving couple, Sarah and Angus Moorcroft, are trying to move on with their lives after the tragic death of one of their identical twin daughters. Determined to start fresh, they move from London to a tiny Scottish island that Angus inherited from his grandmother. 

But things only become worse after they move. The surviving daughter, Kirstie, suddenly claims that she's actually Lydia, and her parents begin to wonder if they made a terrible mistake. As more time passes, Kirstie (or Lydia?) begins acting very strangely, and Sarah begins to question what actually happened on the night of the accident and whether it is, in fact, just the three of them on their remote island.

I realized pretty early on that I probably wouldn't like this book as much as I initially thought I would. The dialogue grated on my nerves (for some reason it always annoys the hell out of me when people constantly call each other "darling" in books or movies), Kirstie/Lydia acted and spoke like a baby (do 7 year old children really still call their fathers "Dada?"), and the nicknames the couple had for the twins were stupid (Lydie-lo and Kirstie-koo). I know most of those things wouldn't be a big deal to most readers, but they annoyed me so much that I worried I wouldn't even be able to finish the book.

As I continued reading, I found myself at least wondering where S.K. Tremayne would take the story ... And that's literally the only reason I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. If I absolutely hated it, I wouldn't care what happened on the night of the accident or which twin actually survived. 

Unfortunately, the story was completely scattered. Was The Ice Twins a ghost story? A story about a dysfunctional family trying to deal with a tragedy? Or was it a story about mistaken identity? It's honestly kind of hard to say because there were so many ideas and random subplots that were never fully developed.

I wish I could say I understand why so many people seem to love this book so much, but I honestly don't. Unless you just really want to check it out for yourself, I'd say this is one to skip.

"TL;DR" Summary:

I'm pleased to say that the majority of the books I've picked up recently are worth checking out. If I had to choose, though, I'd say that The Sea of Tranquility was my favorite. If you haven't read it already, please add it to your "To Read" list. But reader beware: you may not want to finish this one in public if, like me, you're prone to sobbing hysterically over books!

I would also highly recommend The Girl on the Train and You. (I know most people have probably already read The Girl on the Train, though.) You can be pretty sexually explicit, so just keep that in mind if you decide to check it out. I know that sort of thing isn't for everyone.

If you're looking for some nonfiction, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? might appeal to you (especially if you enjoy reading memoirs). I'm not a huge fan of nonfiction, but this book was pretty interesting and managed to hold my attention.

The Ice Twins was the one true dud in the bunch. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it definitely didn't live up to the hype. I'm still wondering how it managed to earn so many 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Chorizo Breakfast Enchilada Stack

I really hate that I wasn't able to get a great picture of this meal because it tastes so much better than the photo below would have you believe.

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I have to admit, though, that this wasn't my original vision.

When I first started thinking about some new recipes to try, I decided I would come up with a breakfast enchilada dish. Breakfast burritos are one of my absolute favorite things, so making a few simple changes to transform a burrito into an enchilada seemed like an easy and obvious thing to do.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as I initially thought.

I make enchiladas pretty regularly, and I've never had the issues I had when I was trying to make this meal. 

When I first started rolling the corn tortillas around my filling, everything was fine ... And then they started cracking and spilling shit everywhere. I made it through about 4 enchiladas before I decided I should probably rethink my original plan and come up with something else.

And so this breakfast enchilada stack was born.

Like I said, it's not the prettiest dish. The corn tortillas weren't immune to cracking even after I decided to stack them instead of roll them. I made a ton of filling, so it's kind of spilling out the sides (and I still had some left over that I used for burrito bowls!). And I can never seem to make any avocado sauce look appetizing in pictures (even though it always tastes amazing). 

But you know what? I'm proud of this meal. I'm proud because I came up with a recipe using my knowledge and experience, and, when it didn't work out the way I wanted it to, I managed to figure out a way to save it. 

Is this the best food picture I've ever shared on my blog? Absolutely not. Hopefully you can overlook the less than perfect photo, though, and see this meal for what it is: spicy, flavorful, filling, and delicious.

Chorizo Breakfast Enchilada Stack

A Divulge and Indulge original recipe. (Sauce adapted from a recipe on Gimme Some Oven.)

Ingredient List:
  • 0.75 lb chorizo sausage
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into very small (about 1 inch) chunks
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk (I used 1%.)
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper (You don't need to chop this since it will be going in the food processor, but if you don't want the sauce to be very spicy, you should cut it enough to remove some of the seeds.)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp low fat margarine or butter (I used low fat margarine.)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used low fat, and it worked well.)
  • 15 corn tortillas (soft taco size)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (I used Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican blend.)
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 4 tsp garlic salt, divided


1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3.  Add the diced potatoes and red onion to the skillet and season with 2 tsp garlic salt and 2 tsp black pepper. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes and onions have softened a bit and the potatoes start to brown.

4.  Crumble the chorizo sausage into a separate medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until completely browned.

5.  Once the potato/onion mixture and chorizo sausage have finished cooking, mix them together in a large bowl and set aside.

6.  Wipe out the large skillet that previously held the potato/onion mixture, spray with cooking spray, and place back over medium heat.

7.  Crack the eggs into a medium dish with a lid (I usually just use a Tupperware dish), and add the diced red bell pepper, sea salt, and remaining 1 tsp black pepper. Cover and shake vigorously, then pour the mixture into the large skillet.

8.  Pour the milk into the egg mixture and continue to cook over medium heat, scrambling with a spoon or spatula. 

9.  Once the eggs have finished cooking, transfer the egg mixture into the large bowl with the potato/onion mixture and chorizo sausage. Stir to combine and set aside.

10.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

11.  Add the flour, then slowly pour in the chicken broth, stirring well to get rid of any lumps.

12.  Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Allow the sauce to simmer for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.

13.  Add the sour cream, cilantro, and remaining 2 tsp garlic salt to the sauce. Stir well to combine.

14.  Add the avocados and jalapeño pepper to a food processor, blending until fairly smooth. (It's okay if there are some lumps at this point.)

15.  Slowly pour the sauce into the food processor, blending with the avocados and jalapeño pepper until smooth and creamy. (Be very careful blending hot liquid in a food processor! Make sure you open the lid regularly to allow heat to escape!)

16.  Squeeze the juice from the lime into the sauce, and pulse a few more times until everything is thoroughly mixed.

17.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.

18.  Place 6 corn tortillas across the bottom of the pan, then cover with about 1 1/2 cups of the filling from the large bowl, about 1/2 cup of the Mexican blend cheese, and about 1/2 cup of the avocado cream sauce. (These amounts are approximate. I didn't actually measure out how much I used between each layer, so just use your best judgment.) 

19.  Stack 3 corn tortillas across the center of the filling/cheese/sauce mixture, and add more filling, cheese, and avocado cream sauce.

20.  Place the last 6 corn tortillas across the top of the center layer and finish off with the remaining cheese and avocado cream sauce.

21.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted.

I know this probably looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of work (and it kind of is). But trust me ... It's well worth it! If you're also a huge fan of breakfast burritos, you should definitely give this a try!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Keeping it Simple: My September Goals

Since I didn't do a great job sticking with my August goals, I've decided to make things a little easier on myself this month. While I think I could probably push myself a little harder (and I probably should), I don't want to get overly ambitious and then come back at the beginning of October to report that I barely accomplished anything.

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My September 2015 Goals:

1.  Finish the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge. I stuck with my original list (which can be found here, if you're interested), and I've completed 9 out of 10 books. I still need to read my pick for "A Book That Was Recommended By Another Blogger," and I need to do it by the time this challenge ends on September 21.

2.  Watch at least 3 movies for the Fall Film Challenge. (You can check out my list here.) I think this is a realistic number of movies to watch in a month. If I want to complete the challenge and watch 25 movies in 3 months, I should actually be watching a lot more than 3 movies in September. I know how busy things can get, though, and I already have plans for 3 of the 4 weekends this month ... So I'll stick with 3.

3.  Try to come up with a schedule for reading/commenting on blogs. For a while I was keeping up with my favorite bloggers and commenting within at least a day or two of the original post. Lately, though, I've been letting posts pile up in my Bloglovin' feed for days. I always catch back up, but I feel like it's a huge time suck to spend a night or two reading everything everyone has posted for an entire week (or sometimes longer) and then take time to comment on the things that really stand out. When I don't have a schedule, sometimes I let things slide for too long. I need structure.

I was going to try to come up with a couple more goals, but I think I'll keep things simple this month. Besides, I'm already in vacation mode ... Labor Day is coming up, and I took off a couple of extra days to visit my friend Danielle in Minnesota. I'm so excited to have a 5 day weekend, and I'm looking forward to spending time with Danielle and exploring a new area! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Monthly Goals: August Results

I have to say that August was definitely not my month when it came to sticking with my goals. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself because, for the most part, I didn't just say "fuck it" and ignore them. It's still kind of disappointing, though, because I was actually excited about my goals (which usually means I'll make more of an effort to achieve them).

Oh well ... I can't change anything now. I can only share what I did manage to accomplish and hope that I can get more shit done in September.

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In August I wanted to:

1.  Read at least 7 books from start to finish.

2.  Write at least 2 more thoughtful, more personal posts.

3.  Try at least 2 new restaurants with Eric.

4.  Create a cocktail recipe and share it on my blog.

5.  Do at least 1 Jillian Michaels workout video each week.

What I actually did:

1.  I came really close to achieving this, but I only managed to finish 6. I started the seventh book on 08/30, but I knew there was no way I'd finish it by the end of the day on Monday. (Maybe if I didn't have to go to work!) 

The 6 books I finished were White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and You by Caroline Kepnes. I shared my reviews for White is for Witching and The Devil You Know in this post, and I'll be joining the Show Us Your Books! link-up next week to share my thoughts on the rest of these books.

2.  I'm straddling the line of Pass/Fail with this one. I felt like my 30 Things I've Learned in 30 Years post was a little more thoughtful and personal ... I definitely stirred up some emotions while I was writing it! 

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if any of my other August posts would qualify. I shared some personal things in my post about classic literature I love and again in my nostalgic "All About Pearl Jam" monthly playlist post ... But those weren't really the types of posts I was thinking of when I set this goal.

3.  Pass! We actually tried 3 new places: V. Mertz, Which Wich, and Toppers Pizza. They weren't all fancy, but they were all delicious!

4.  Clearly I didn't get around to this one since I didn't post any cocktail recipes. I still want to come up with a cocktail recipe at some point, but I doubt I'll get around to it this month.

5.  So close again! For the first 3 weeks in August, I stuck with Jillian. But that last week? I got really lazy. I was working out 3-4 times every week for about a month and a half or so, and I was so proud of myself. And then I just decided I didn't feel like working out that much, and I only went to one yoga class the final week of August. To be fair, several evenings I was busy with other things ... But I'm sure I could have squeezed in a 25 minute workout video.

So yeah ... I didn't do a terrible job with my goals last month, but I've definitely done better!

I need some more time to figure out what I want to commit to this month, so I'll be posting my September goals tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Spicy Crockpot Beef and Peppers

It's no secret that I love my crockpot. There's no better feeling than putting in minimal effort to create a delicious, filling meal.

Seriously, though ... I make pretty elaborate, time consuming dinners from time to time. And while I definitely feel a major sense of accomplishment when it all comes together, I don't feel any less accomplished if I just throw a few things together in a crockpot and wait. It may not be a fancy meal, but as long as it tastes good, I'm happy. (Not to mention the fact that instead of slaving away in the kitchen, I have time to do other things like work out, read, work on blog stuff, etc. That's a win in my book!)

I found this recipe while searching Pinterest for healthy crockpot recipes. I barely made any changes to it because it honestly didn't need a bunch of extra stuff. I've also been trying to use the beef we still have from last year's purchase (we'll be buying the same amount from Eric's cousins this year, but we still have a decent amount of meat left in our freezer), so this was perfect.

This is incredibly easy to put together and really good (though my less than stellar photo might make you think otherwise). The Sriracha gives the sauce a nice kick, but it's not overwhelmingly spicy. You can also always use less Sriracha (or more) depending on your tastes.

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Spicy Crockpot Beef and Peppers

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Let the Baking Begin.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 lb beef stew meat (I might double this next time so we can have more leftovers.)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into slices and then halved
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cut into slices and then halved
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into slices and then halved
  • 1 cup beef broth or 1 cup water + 3 beef bullion cubes (I used the water/bullion option.)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (Again, you can use more or less depending on your personal tastes.)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (I used basmati rice, but any white or brown rice works.)


1.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.

2.  Add the beef stew meat, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and white onion to the crockpot.

3.  Sprinkle the garlic salt and black pepper over the meat and vegetable mixture.

4.  Mix the Sriracha with the water and beef bullion cubes (or with the beef broth, if that's what you're using) in a small bowl, and pour over the meat and vegetables in the crockpot.

5.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

6.  About 15 minutes before the end of cook time, stir the 1/2 cup water and cornstarch together in a small saucepan.

7.  Add about 1 cup of the liquid from the crockpot to the water and cornstarch, and cook over medium high heat until boiling. Stir constantly to ensure that the cornstarch doesn't get clumpy.

8.  Once the sauce is boiling, allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes. This should help get rid of any cornstarch flavor.

9.  Pour the sauce back into the crockpot, and stir the mixture a few times. 

As I said, I served this over a bed of white basmati rice. I also made a side of green beans, but they didn't make it into the picture.